Shelter homes are a lifeline for women in crisis
When we say “home,” we envision comfort, care, love, understanding, and support. What happens when someone doesn’t find all of these lifelines in their own homes? When one faces disgrace and humiliation 24/7 and is left with no hope of light through the tunnel they walk in? Sadly, it’s often women who find themselves at the receiving end of such foreign and frustrating behaviour. A woman is a paragon of patience and forbearance, undoubtedly so. But does this mean she has to be the only scapegoat in the house? That she has to shoulder all responsibility and take all the blame? Unfortunately, in the majority of cases, she does face the Herculean task of multitasking in the house. She is at the centre of this wheel without which a house can’t be called a home. She does revel in being a beloved daughter, a caring wife, and a doting mother. Respect is the common thread that should essentially run through all these relationships. Things begin going wrong when she begins losing this essential respect, especially after her marriage.
For quite some time, she is treated well, probably to give off the vibes of being a very civilized and loving household. Then all hell breaks loose. Rather than making it a blessing, their marriages are turned into a curse for them in so many ways that almost all of us are aware of. Their tolerance is considered synonymous with adjectives like good character, and stuff like that. Nobody weighs up the battles that they go through each day, internally or externally. Eventually, there comes a point in time when the cauldron of their tolerance boils over. They find their very existence, their self-respect, and dignity at stake. They feel like asking themselves whether such a life is worth living. In this maze of confusion, frustration, extreme stress, and strain, they start looking for an escape route. Hence, ending their lives seems easier to them than battling the death-like situation every now and then.
Do we, collectively, as a sensible society, have a support system in place for such women? Probably not! We, as a part of society, always either misunderstand the situation or just feel that sympathizing with such women is more than enough. What should actually be done is something that no one ever does, fearing society for judging them. Your perspective is safe only when you jump on the bandwagon of what’s commonly acceptable.
In my opinion, like old age homes, there must be homes for destitute women as well, wherein they can live, learn skills, and earn their livelihood instead of attempting suicide. Putting an end to one’s life doesn’t benefit anyone. They do so because they do not have any other source of survival. Like a true feminist, it is better for us to take the initiative towards making a shelter for destitute women rather than just bragging about being a feminist. I know we may face many hardships; we may have to face a lot of negative criticism as well, but laying this sort of foundation will definitely count in the long run. It is a blissful deed to build homes for women who have no one or nowhere to go. Women need not tolerate to the extent of ending their lives. If it is going beyond the curb, they can take refuge in such homes rather than thinking about ending their lives.
When a woman is ill-treated by her in-laws and is not supported by her maternal family too, she no longer has any hope left as she has no means of livelihood outside those two houses. In this case, they usher themselves towards their last resort, and that’s suicide. But if such homes are built, they will have hopes to go somewhere; they may not think of ending up their lives. People are mostly found articulating that they should tolerate and not give up on their lives, but why can’t society think beyond these two options? Why on earth would one tolerate such indifference and harassment done to them? Let’s build a place for them to make this world a better place to live in!
I’m not advocating for this solution to be a norm or the only solution; rather, there should be a mechanism in place whereby women left to fend for themselves could feel safe and secure instead of taking an extreme step. Every human being has grown up to be an asset to society and nation. This asset has value and could be made to play a positive and constructive role in nation-building. Why do we let these assets go down the drain in a jiffy?! There are women’s organizations at government and non-governmental levels that could brainstorm and may come up with better solutions. I, as a concerned woman myself, thought to myself, and this introspection made me write down my thoughts. I hope the debate will take off for good, and we will have more opinions on this from across the board.
The writer is an English teacher and can be reached at [email protected]